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Senate candidate used active duty troops in security detail

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Republican Senate candidate Joe Miller caught national attention Monday when his security detail handcuffed an editor they said was a problem.

Now Miller may have problems of his own.

Two of the guards who helped “arrest” the blogger-journalist, Alaska Dispatch editor Tony Hopfinger — who was later released after questioning by police — were actually active duty soldiers in the US Army.

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“The Army says that two of the guards who assisted in the arrest of the journalist and who tried to prevent two other reporters from filming the detention were active-duty soldiers moonlighting for Miller’s security contractor, the Drop Zone, a Spenard surplus store and protection service,” The Anchorage Daily News’ Richard Mauer wrote Tuesday.

“The soldiers, Spc. Tyler Ellingboe, 22, and Sgt. Alexander Valdez, 31, are assigned to the 3rd Maneuver Enhancement Brigade at Fort Richardson,” Mauer added. “Maj. Bill Coppernoll, the public affairs officer for the Army in Alaska, said the two soldiers did not have permission from their current chain of command to work for the Drop Zone, but the Army was still researching whether previous company or brigade commanders authorized their employment.”

Off duty soldiers can moonlight at other jobs so long as it doesn’t interfere with “readiness,” the paper wrote, or affect “good order” or discipline.

“Miller’s chief guard at the Middle School event, Drop Zone owner William Fulton, said it wasn’t his job to ensure soldiers complied with the regulations, though he said he informs them of their duty,” Mauer added.

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The paper also appears to have caught Miller in a lie. The GOP Senate candidate said that he was required to bring security to the event where the journalist was arrested, but the school says this isn’t true.

“The school district said there was no such requirement made of Miller — he only had to provide a hall and parking lot monitor, and advise participants of school district courtesy and food rules,” Mauer wrote.

Miller’s campaign claimed that security officials did not know they were detaining a blogger that had been reporting on Miller.

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“Getting handcuffed by somebody you don’t know at a public school, no one had said it was a private event or cast it that way, I mean intimidated, yeah [I was],” Hopfinger told The Huffington Post Monday. “But I guess I was more pissed off. Miller, I felt, was going to answer my question on the reprimand part.”

Hopfinger explained that he followed Miller through the school hallway in an effort to get an explanation for the use of Fairbanks Northstar Borough equipment in a failed 2008 attempt to oust state Republican Party Chairman Randy Ruedrich.

“I figure I’m at a public school and they are telling me I’m trespassing,” said Hopfinger. “And it was just a matter of seconds, I’m challenging this trespass issue and the next thing you know they got me detained and I’m in handcuffs and they put me in another corridor of the building. So for 25 minutes no one even knew where the hell I was… They said we were going to call the police and I said, ‘Fine, call the police.'”

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Hopfinger and his paper are considering taking legal action. But “at the end of the day, I would just prefer to see Mr. Miller [answer the questions],” he said.

More on the story is available at the Daily News.

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